Mercedes-Benz (MBG.DE) has always been associated with premium, up-market German automobiles, but that isn’t good enough for Mercedes chairman Ola Källenius.
He recently laid out Mercedes’ future path to push the brand even further into the “top end,” as they are calling it, focusing on the higher-end models that the automaker is known for, think AMG, Maybach, and the ubiquitous S-class.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are part of this luxury push, and nowhere is that more obvious than its range-topping, all-electric sedan — and actually the brand’s first EV — the EQS.
As background, the EQ platform is a “clean-sheat” design that will use permanently excited synchronous motors, lithium-ion batteries positioned in the floor, and the MBUX Hyperscreen, a 56-inch curved glass display that wraps around the entire instrument panel, as key features for these cars.
Put to the test
Mercedes recently dropped off an EQS 580 4Matic for Yahoo Finance to test.
Looking at the outside skin of the EQS, wrapped in a gorgeous Selenite Grey Magno (Mercedes’ term for a matte finish), gave the car an immediate upmarket, special feel. The car is sleek and clearly has a purpose in terms of its curves — to be as slippery and aerodynamic as possible.
This leads it to have, in my mind, not the prettiest front and front quarter panels, which have the A-pillar dipping below the beltline of the car to give that steep, cabin forward rake in the windshield. Yes, it’s very aero, but the stance sort of hurts the car from a presence point of view. In the pure looks department, I think the standard, gas-powered S-Class stands supreme.
Inside it is quite another story. The MBX Hyperscreen commands your attention, inviting you into this extremely tech forward, TRON-like cabin. The UX interface is high-res, futuristic, and fun to play with, although it an be a tad confusing trying to find the feature you’re looking for. The passenger side screen seemed gimmicky at first, however when you are traveling with a passenger who’s keen on tech, it was very useful to have the rider adjust the navigation or audio settings.
Fit and finish inside is on-par with what Mercedes has been doing for quite some time, basically leading the pack in that regard, especially when it comes to materials. The space-grey leather, AMG black panels, and natural grain “anthracite linden wood” trim all worked nicely together.
4Matic usually means all-wheel drive in the world of Mercedes, but with the EQS range this means something a bit different. The standard EQS 450 is rear-wheel drive, with one motor positioned on the rear axle. With 4Matic EQS, Mercedes is putting a motor on both the front and rear axles, which power both axles, giving the EQS 580 true all-wheel drive.
Coupled with the two motors the EQS 580 pumps out 516-hp and 613 lb-ft of torque. Both EQS models use the same 107.8-kWh battery that EQS rates at 350 miles of range for the 450, and 340 miles for the 580. When I received the car with a full charge, the display was showing 392 miles of range (I don’t doubt that figure if the car is driven mostly in the city).
Once settled in, taking off in the EQS 580 is quite a serene experience.
Power from those two motors is generous, but it doesn’t come on in an immediate rush; there is a gentle push from the car when the accelerator is pressed. Mercedes engineers did this on purpose to give the car a tranquil, easy-driving character.
The car comes standard with air suspension and adaptive dampers, and combined with the all-wheel drive system and those two motors, the EQS did not so much drive along the road, it floated.
Yes, it is quite the pillowy, silky smooth at-all-costs driving experience in the car’s comfort mode, and the sound of the whirring electric drivetrain (Mercedes has included two different sound modes to choose from), coupled with the Star Trek-like Hyperscreen display, only adds to that futuristic vibe of the car.
You can dial up the suspension stiffness to Sport, but even that setting is still a tad soft. For someone who prefers a sportier, stiffer suspension with immediate steering feedback, the EQS is just not going to deliver that experience. It wasn’t designed to do so.
The EQS is Mercedes’ attempt to bring S-class comfort and technology to its range-topping electric sedan, that at the moment is the company’s vision of its electric future. It’s to show drivers and passengers that the company is serious about electric powertrains and that technology is at the heart of everything the car has to offer.
The EQS is an impressive achievement, though it is not for everyone. It will be very interesting to see where the rest of Mercedes’ electric range is headed.
And by that I mean, “Mercedes, please release the electric EQG G-wagen and Vision AMG Concept as soon as it’s technically possible – thanks.” That’s the future I’m looking toward.
The Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic starts at $125,900 before delivery; our test model with options came in at $141,400.
Pras Subramanian is a senior autos reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.
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